Collapsed Narcissist, Collapsed Histrionic

Uploaded 8/5/2019, approx. 12 minute read

To be a narcissist is a full-time job. The narcissist needs to secure narcissistic supply on an ongoing basis, exactly like a junkie has to secure his next fix. Without narcissistic supply, the narcissist crumbles. It's a full-time job, it's energy depleting, and many narcissists do not have the skills, talents, or qualifications to obtain supply. They are the collapsed narcissists.

Today, I would like to discuss the collapsed narcissist, and a new concept I have come up with, the collapsed histrionic.

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.

Pathological narcissism is thought to be the result of a prolonged period of severe abuse by primary caregivers, or by peers, or authority figures. In this sense, pathological narcissism is a reaction to trauma. It's a post-traumatic condition.

Narcissism is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that got ossified and fixated and mutated into a personality disorder.

All narcissists are traumatized. All narcissists suffer from a variety of post-traumatic syndromes, such as abandonment anxiety, reckless behaviors, and other anxiety disorders, mood disorders, somatophone disorders, or the image problems, and so on.

But the presenting signs of narcissism rarely indicate post-trauma. This is because pathological narcissism is an efficient coping defense mechanism. It's adaptive.

The narcissist presents to the world a facade of invincibility, equanimity, superiority, skillfulness, cool-headedness, invulnerability, nonchalance, and in short, indifference.

This front that the narcissist presents to the world is penetrated in times of great crisis that threaten the narcissist's ability to obtain narcissistic supply. It is also breached and collapses when narcissistic supply is spurious, fake, or low-grade, negative, or static.

And then the narcissist becomes a collapsed narcissist.

Many self-help experts online use the term failed narcissist, but it's a failed term. It's a mistake. Failed narcissist is a term that was invented by Grozstein, a scholar, to describe one of the phases in the development of borderline personalities.

The correct term is collapsed narcissist.

The collapsed narcissist is very much like the collapsed histrionic. The collapsed histrionic is usually a woman with body image, somato formations, and a low sense of self-worth. Yet, she still needs men, and she uses men to regulate her flagging self-esteem and deficient self-confidence. This creates a permanent dissonance and anti-secretory anxiety as such a woman expects fully to be rejected and humiliated by men.

Low self-esteem often leads to an impaired reality test. The collapsed histrionic misreads environmental, social, and sexual cues. She often ends up being mocked, shunned, abused, or sexually assaulted by men. She compensates for her insecurities with brazen defiance and grandiosity, as well as with substance abuse, alcoholism, all of which compound her ability to properly gauge reality.

The collapsed histrionics feelings of inferiority and inadequacy lead the collapsed histrionic to social withdrawal and to reclusiveness. She rarely dates men, and when she does, she aggresses against, pushes away, and abuses alpha males, winners, accomplishment, even when they are genuinely interested in her. She engages in pre-emptive abandonment. She dumps them before they dump her.

Instead, the collapsed histrionic picks up safe beta males, weak, ugly losers who are very unlikely to painfully reject her. Both histrionics and narcissists require a form of narcissistic supply, and when the narcissistic supply is deficient when it's missing, they resort to several adaptive solutions.

The first solution is the delusional narrative solution. The narcissist of histrionic construct a narrative in which he figures as the hero, brilliant, perfect, irresistibly handsome, or beautiful, destined for great things, entitled powerful, wealthy, the center of attention, etc.

The biggest strain of this delusional charade, the greater the gap between fantasy and reality, the grandiosity gap, the more the delusion coalesces and solidifies.

Finally, if the delusion is sufficiently protracted in time, it replaces reality, and the histrionic and the collapsed histrionic and narcissist reality test deteriorates considerably. He or she withdraws the bridges, may become schizotypal, catatonic, or schizoid.

Another solution is the antisocial solution.

The narcissist of histrionic renounce reality. To the narcissist of histrionic's mind, those who pusillanimously fail to recognize his unbound talents, his innate superiority, his overarching brilliance, his benevolent nature, her stunning beauty, entitlement, cosmically important mission, affection, etc., etc. Anyone who fails to recognize the real foundations of the narcissist of histrionic's grandiosity, they don't deserve consideration.

The narcissist's natural affinity with the criminal, the lack of empathy and compassion, efficient social skills, disregard for social laws and morals, they are also common to the histrionic.

Both narcissists and histrionics have a psychopathic overlay.

Actually, many scholars claim that histrionic personality disorder is the female variant of psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder.

In all these conflicts, all these antisocial defiant brew erupts and blossoms.

The rejected narcissist, the rejected histrionic, becomes a full-fledged antisocial psychopath. He or she ignores the wishes and needs of others, breaks the law, violates all rights, natural and legal, holds people in contempt and disdain, derides and decries society and its codes, punishes the ignorant in grace, and transgresses on the emotions and rights of even loved ones that, to his or her mind, these people drove him over to this state. They are guilty. They are responsible for her or his acts.

By acting criminally and by jeopardizing their safety, lives and property, the narcissist, the collapsed narcissist, the collapsed histrionic, exact vengeance, reciprocates, restores balance and justice. It's a power play within a power matrix.

A variant of this pattern of conduct is the passive-aggressive solution.

Passive aggressiveness wears a multitude of guises. Procrastination, malingering, perfectionism, forgetfulness, neglect, truancy, intentional inefficiency, stubbornness, and outright sabotage.

This repeated and inadvertent misconduct has far-reaching effects.

Consider the negativists in the workplace. He or she invests time and efforts in obstructing their own chores and in undermining relationships.

But these self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors wreak havoc throughout the workshop of the office, same in romantic relationships.

Despite the obstructive role of their play, passive aggressives feel unappreciated, bored, cheated, and misunderstood. Left out, they chronically complain, whine, cough, and criticize. They blame their failures and defeats on others, posing as martyrs and victims of a corrupt, inefficient, and heartless system, or corrupt, inefficient, and heartless people.

In other words, they have alloplastic defenses and an external locus of control.

Passive aggressives sulk and give the silent treatment in reaction to real or imaginary slights. They suffer from ideas of referential ideation. They believe that they are the part of derision-contemptive condemnation. They are mildly paranoid. The world is out to get them, which explains their personal misfortunes, or they are being purposefully left out and cut out.

In the words of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, they may be sullen, irritable, impatient, argumentative, cynical, skeptical, and contrary. Rageful and spiteful, they are also hostile, explosive, they lack impulse control, and they are sometimes reckless.

The next solution to deficient narcissistic supply, the next solution commonly adopted by collapsed narcissists and histrionics, is the paranoid schizoid solution.

When narcissism fails as a defense mechanism, the narcissist develops paranoid narratives, self-directed confabulations, which place him at the center of others allegedly malign attention. The narcissist becomes his own audience, and self-sufficient as his own, sometimes exclusive source of narcissistic supply.

The narcissist develops persecutory delusions. The safe slides and insults were none were intended. Collapsed narcissists and collapsed histrionics are hyper-vigilant.

The narcissist or histrionic becomes subject to referential ideation. People are gossiping about her, mocking him, trying into his affairs, cracking her emails, etc.

The narcissist and histrionic become convinced that he or she is the center of malign and malintentioned attention. People are conspiring to humiliate her, punish him, abscond with his property, delude her, impoverish him, confine her physically or intellectually, censor him, impose on her time, force him to action or to inaction, frighten her, coerce him, surround and besiege her, change his mind, part with her values, victimize or even murder her, ignore her, cut her out, leave her aside, etc., etc.

Some narcissists withdraw completely from the world, populated with such malicious and nominal subjects. They are really projections of internal objects and processes, persecutory objects.

These collapsed narcissists and histrionics avoid all social contact except the most necessary. They refrain from meeting people, from falling in love, from having sex, from encouraging intimacy, from talking to others or even from corresponding.

In short, they become schizoids, not out of social shyness or social anxiety, but out of what they feel to be their choice.

This evil, hopeless world does not deserve me, goes the inner refrain, and I shall waste none of my time and resources on it.

The next solution is the paranoid, aggressive or explosive solution.

Other narcissists who develop persecutory delusions, histrionics with the same, resort to an aggressive stance among violent resolution of their internal conflict.

They become verbally, psychologically, situationally, and very rarely physically abusive. They insult, castigate, shear skies, berate, demean and derive, the nearest and dearest, often vanishes, often loved ones.

These narcissists and histrionics explode in unprovoked displays of indignation, righteousness, spite, condemnation and blame.

Theirs is the exegetic backlog.

They interpret everything, even the most innocuous, inadvertent and innocent comment, as designed to provoke and humiliate them.

They sow fear, revulsion, hate and malignant envy. They flame against the windmills of reality, apathetic, forlorn side, for sure.

But often they cause really, and lusting damage. They hurt people, and sometimes they hurt themselves.

The next solution is the masochistic avoidance solution.

The collapsed narcissist and collapsed histrionic are angered, is angered by the lack of narcissistic supply or attention or admiration or being desired.

The collapsed narcissist and collapsed histrionic direct some of his or her fury inwards, punishing himself or herself for his or her failure.

This masochistic behavior has the added benefit of forcing the narcissist or histrionic's closest to assume the roles of dismayed spectators, spectators of or persecutors, and thus either way to pay him the attention that he craves.

So he forces people around him to observe what's happening and to pity him or to pity her or to persecute him or her.

Self-administered punishment often manifests as self-handicapping masochism, a narcissistic or histrionic copout.

By undermining his work, her relationship and his efforts, the increasingly fragile narcissist and histrionic avoids additional criticism and central negative supply.

Self-inflicted failure is the narcissist or the histrionic doing and thus proves that he or she is the master of his or her own fate.

Masochistic narcissists keep finding themselves in self-defeating circumstances which render success impossible and an objective assessment of their performance improbable, quote Theodosius.

They act carelessly, withdraw in mid-effort, are constantly fatigued, bored or disaffected, and thus passive-aggressively sabotage their lives. Their suffering is defiant and by deciding to abort, they reassert their own liberties.

The collapsed narcissist and histrionic's pronounced and public misery, self-pity, are compensatory.

Again, Theodosius saysAgain, Theodomilum says, they are intended to reinforce his or her self-esteem against overwhelming convictions of worthlessness.

The collapsed narcissist and histrionic's tribulations and anguish render him or her in his or her eyes unique, saintly, virtuous, righteous, resilient and significant. They are, in other words, self-generated narcissistic supply.

Thus, paradoxically, the worse the anguish and unhappiness of the collapsed narcissist or the collapsed histrionic, the more relieved and elated such a narcissist or histrionic feels. It feels good to feel bad.

In extremists, when all these default behaviors and solutions fail, or when only negative, fake, elaborate and static narcissistic supply is to be had, the collapsed narcissist or histrionic falls apart in a process of disintegration known as decompensation. It's the inability to maintain psychological defenses in the face of overwhelming and mounting stress. And this is accompanied by the next stage, which is acting out. It's when an inner conflict, most often frustration, translates into aggression. It involves acting with little or no insight or reflection, and in order to attract attention and disrupt other people's cozy lives.

The dynamic forces which render the narcissist and the histrionic paralyzed and fake, his or her vulnerabilities, weaknesses and fears, these are starkly exposed as his or her defenses crumble and become dysfunctional.

The narcissist or histrionic's extreme dependence on his or her social milieu for the regulation of his or her sense of support is painfully and pitifully evident as he or she is reduced to begging and cajole or to threatening.

At such times, the collapsed narcissist or the collapsed histrionic acts self destructively and antisocial. The mask of superior equanimity is pierced by displays of impotent rage, self-loathing, self-pity, passive aggressiveness and cross-attends at manipulation of friends, family, loved ones and colleagues.

The collapsed narcissist or collapsed histrionic's ostensible benevolence and caring evaporate suddenly and shockingly. The mask falls, evenly erupts and emanates or maliciousness.

The collapsed narcissist and collapsed histrionic seek to destroy the source of frustration, to punish it, to punish loved ones, to ruin other people's lives, to cause enormous emotional havoc and anguish and pain.

The collapsed narcissist and collapsed histrionic feel caged and threatened and they react with as any animal would do by striking back at their perceived tormentors, at their either to nearest and dearest.

There is no sight, no sight on God's given earth more unsettling than this transition from caring, empathic, loving, tender person.

The acting from acting to acting out the vicious cornered malicious animal that strikes out at anyone and everyone around her and causes the maximum possible damage, pain and blood both figurative and literal.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist as Spoiled Brat

Narcissists require attention and narcissistic supply, and when they cannot obtain it, they may experience decompensation, which can lead to acting out in various ways. Narcissists may resort to several adaptive solutions, including delusional narratives, antisocial behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, paranoid narratives, and masochistic avoidance. These behaviors are all self-generated sources of narcissistic supply. Masochistic narcissists may direct their fury inwards, punishing themselves for their failure to elicit supply, and this behavior has the added benefit of forcing those closest to them to pay attention to them.

Can Narcissism be Cured?

Pathological narcissism is difficult to cure, and most narcissists resist psychotherapy. However, some progress has been made in effecting small changes in personality disorders through talk therapy and medication. The earlier the therapeutic intervention, the better the prognosis, and aging tends to moderate or even vanquish some antisocial behaviors associated with pathological narcissism. The existence of empathy is a serious predictor of future psychodynamics, and the prognosis for a classical narcissist with grandiosity, lack of empathy, and all is not good as far as long-term, lasting, and complete healing.

Addict Narcissists: Substance Abuse and Reckless Behaviors

Pathological narcissism is an addiction to narcissistic supply, which is the narcissist's drug of choice. Other addictive and reckless behaviors such as war-camelism, alcoholism, drug abuse, pathological gambling, compulsory shopping, reckless driving, and even compulsive lying, piggyback on this primary dependence on narcissistic supply. The narcissist's addictive behaviors take his mind off his inherent limitations and bridge the gap between his unrealistic expectations of life and his inflated self-image. There is no point in treating the dependence and recklessness of the narcissist without first treating the underlying personality disorder.

How Narcissist Experiences His Collapse (Grandiosity Bubbles and Delusional Solutions)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the collapse of narcissists when they are unable to obtain supply. He explains the internal dynamics and various solutions narcissists adopt in response to this deficiency, such as delusional narratives, antisocial behavior, paranoid schizoid tendencies, and masochistic avoidance. The narcissist's withdrawal symptoms are compared to those of a drug addict, and the role of magical thinking in their behavior is explored.

Narcissism as Addiction (ICABS 2019: International Conference on Addiction and Behavioral Science)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the idea of recasting narcissistic disorders of the self as addictions. He explains that pathological narcissism is a form of addiction to narcissistic supply, which is the narcissist's drug of choice. The pursuit of narcissistic supply is frenetic and compulsive, and when it is missing, the narcissist resorts to abnormal narcissistic supply by behaving recklessly, succumbing to substance abuse, or living dangerously. Narcissists faced with a chronic state of deficient narcissistic supply become criminals, race drivers, gamblers, soldiers, policemen, investigative journalists, or develop phobias, fear, and anxiety.

Self-Aware Narcissist: Still a Narcissist

Narcissism is pervasive and defines the narcissist's waking moments, infiltrating and permeating their dreams. Narcissists only admit to a problem when they are abandoned, destitute, and devastated. Narcissistic behaviors can be modified using talk therapy and pinpointed medication conditioning, but there is a huge difference between behavior modification and a permanent alteration of a psychodynamic landscape. Narcissism may improve with age, but it is rare.

Compulsive Narcissist

Narcissism is an all-pervasive obsessive-compulsive disorder, with the narcissist seeking to recreate and reenact old traumas and conflicts with figures of primary importance in their life, mainly their parents. The narcissist develops a unique defense mechanism, constructing a story, a narrative, and another self, which is perfect, brilliant, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The child worships this new deity, succumbing to what they perceive to be the false self's wishes and needs, making sacrifices of narcissistic supply to the false self. The narcissist's compulsive acts are merely an element in their complicated personality, and shaving them off does nothing to ameliorate the narcissist's titanic inner struggle for survival.

Reimagining Narcissism in a Psychopathic World (Dunc Tank)

Sam Vaknin explains that narcissism is a clinical entity and an organizing principle that can elucidate many processes. Narcissists seek external validation, known as narcissistic supply, to regulate their sense of self-worth. Narcissism and psychopathy are becoming a lifestyle, and as long as they were a pathology, they could have been contained, but the minute they become a fad or a fashion, we are doomed. Vaknin believes that there is no effective therapy for narcissism, and the only advice he has for prospective parents diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder is to not have children.

No Narcissistic Supply Self Supply Or Forced Supply

Narcissists expect fluctuations in their narcissistic supply and rely on intimate partners to regulate it. When faced with a lack of supply, they may resort to delusional narratives, antisocial behavior, paranoid ideation, or masochistic self-destruction. These strategies aim to either self-supply or force the environment to provide supply. The absence of supply can lead to radicalization and the manifestation of recognizable personality disorders. The distinctions between personality disorders are artificial, and individuals exist on a spectrum of traits and behaviors.

Can Narcissist be Tricked Into Healing? (with Daria Zukowska)

Sam Vaknin explains that while certain behaviors of narcissists can be modified, the disorder itself is very difficult to reverse. The realistic treatment goal for NPD is to make the narcissist more acceptable to others and less problematic. In therapy with narcissists, conditioning and reinforcement are critical. The therapist should provide a constant stream of narcissistic supply and explicit praise when the narcissist modifies their behavior in accordance with treatment goals. Narcissists have emotional distortions because they have cognitive distortions, and they have access only to negative emotions.

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